September 11, 1997 in Washington Voices

School Board Elections Most Candidates Except In Riverside And Deer Park Running Unopposed

By The Spokesman-Review

Most of the school board election races in north Spokane County feature just one candidate.

Among the Mead, Deer Park, Riverside and Nine Mile Falls school board elections, only two races have two or more candidates.

The No. 5 position in the Riverside district pits Janet Hansen, Patricia Blair and Allen Lieske against each other, while the Deer Park No. 3 position features Phil Bray against Joanne Greer.

In Riverside, Hansen, a homemaker, has five children enrolled in the district.

She’s been a chairwoman on the school board, serving as a liaison between the board and community for the last eight years.

She said she is happy with the education her children have received but added: “There is room for improvement.”

Hansen said she wants to see the district get stronger in its early reading programs for young students.

“We also have to recognize that not all students are the same,” Hansen said. “I’d like to see the district offer curriculums that will interest a wide variety of students.”

Blair, also a homemaker, said if she is elected, she would like to help “open up the board” and make it more accessible to the community.

She doesn’t believe the school district considered the needs of parents and students when it changed school and bus schedules this year.

Now, more than 2,000 north Spokane elementary students are riding the bus with older secondary students because of combined Riverside and Deer Park routes.

Board members said the move was designed to save the district money. Older students start later while the younger students start classes earlier.

Lieske, who used to drive a school bus in the district for eight years, said he also wasn’t pleased with the way the board handled the matter.

“It doesn’t seem like administration and the board are very user friendly,” Lieske said. “People get the feeling they’re not being listened to.”

Lieske, a sales manager at a chain-saw company, has one child enrolled in the district.

In Deer Park, Greer, who is self-employed, said she is campaigning out of a “general concern” for education. She has three children enrolled in the district.

“I’m pleased to a point with their education, but there’s room for improvement,” Greer said.

“I would like to see us get back to the basics - reading, writing, and arithmetic. I think that general foundation needs to be improved early.

“I don’t think there’s an insistence that they be strong in those areas at the early age.”

Bray, also self-employed, has four children in the district.

He said he’s “very satisfied” with the education his children have received, but he too would like to see a stronger emphasis placed on academics.

“I’d like to see it be stronger,” Bray said.

He believes the district is plagued by what he termed “grade inflation.

“Average work is now a B. Above-average work is an A. I think that’s got to stop.”

In other school board elections, Larry Barden is running unopposed for position No. 1 in Deer Park.

In the Mead School District, Frank Hoover and Bernard Hunt are running unopposed for positions 1 and 5.

Jan Johnston and Joe Poss are running unopposed for positions 1 and 2 in Nine Mile Falls, while Mark Anderson is running unopposed for position No. 5 on the Riverside School Board.

, DataTimes

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